Fact Sheet: April 1999 (Issue No. 20)
Cleanup Heads Toward Early Completion
The planned rate of production is being maintained as the Drake Cleanup Team enters the final weeks of cleanup operations, and progress continues steadily toward completion before the end of April.
- On March 2, the Team announced that 90 percent of the Site's soil had been treated and tested as safe for return to the property.
- On February 22, the Drake contractor, OHM Remediation Services Corp., reached a major safety milestone. As of that date, OHM completed more than 250,000 hours of work without a lost-time accident. Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines all construction firms monitor their accident-free hours worked. This is a significant and notable achievement that reflects the dedication of the Drake employees to assuring a safe workplace and a safe community.
- Because outside excavation work was nearly complete by the middle of March, several pieces of heavy earth-moving equipment were decontaminated and taken out of service. During the final weeks of production, the Team will be processing the remaining soil that has been stored adjacent to and within the feed preparation building.
The last of the all-wheel drive, off-road dump trucks was decontaminated on March 10, prior to its removal from the contaminated zone. Two of these vehicles had been used within the contaminated zone for transporting soil before its treatment. As the area requiring excavation became smaller, they no longer were needed. All equipment goes through extensive decontamination prior to leaving the contaminated zone. Here, a worker uses a high-pressure spray on the truck. Everything on the truck will be cleaned at the decontamination station. The vehicle is then inspected, using surface analysis kits, before it gets the okay for return to normal service outside the controlled area.
Team Evaluates Best Soil to Cover Completed Site
Soil cleanup is swiftly drawing to a close at the Drake Site, and many of the workers are busy preparing for the demobilization and closeout of the project. One of the most important issues remaining to be resolved is the method for establishing vegetation on the property before the Team departs.
Because the soil cleaned at Drake has been sterilized, it will not support plant life without a separate source of nutrients. Additionally, the clean soil has a high lime content that makes it difficult for the soil to sustain some plants.
The Team has been reviewing three different approaches for preparing the clean soil for vegetation. The main considerations include both the cost of soil preparation and the ability to sustain healthy vegetation through a wide range of weather extremes.
The original option under consideration is commonly known as "18 and 6." This plan calls for covering the clean Drake soil with 18 inches of fill dirt that would be purchased and trucked to the Site. On top of that, workers would spread and seed six inches of imported topsoil. The purchase and hauling of large amounts of fill and topsoil make this a very expensive option. But of more concern to the Team, a number of soil scientists have warned that the multiple layer approach could cause the vegetation to die off during drought conditions.
The second option currently under review is a commercially manufactured soil system. This "bion soil" system involves trucking in a cellulose material and spreading six inches of it on the Drake soil. This cellulose would then be mixed with the top 12 inches of Drake soil to produce an 18-inch mixture. Then a patented "bion soil" material, purchased from a commercial source, would be trucked in and spread to a depth of three inches. This is mixed with the top 12 inches of the soil-cellulose mixture before the Site can be seeded to start vegetation. This system has been used successfully elsewhere to vegetate sterile soil. The Team is currently evaluating the cost as well as the methods necessary for mixing the different materials.
Soil scientists from the Pennsylvania State University's agriculture school have proposed a third option. The Penn State faculty team suggested that a simpler mixture of soil additives could produce satisfactory results. Currently several test beds of cleaned Drake soil, mixed with various composted soil amendments and seeded with several vegetation types, are undergoing evaluation in Penn State's laboratories. While the soil scientists are evaluating vegetation growth, the Drake Team is studying the costs for this method.
Following the completion of soil cleanup, the Drake Team will regrade the clean Site soil into its final configuration. By the time regrading is done, the Team will have compared the three topsoil options and will have selected the soil and vegetation option that promises the best results.
Websites Provide a Wealth of Environmental Information
The Drake Team has used the Internet's World Wide Web to keep the community informed about progress at the Drake Site since production began in March 1998. This Internet resource, found at http://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/super/PA/drake/index.htm, has proven to be useful to students, teachers and the community at large. In addition, many other websites provide different views and ideas about environmental protection. As space permits, the Drake Update will provide listings and mini-reviews of some of the more interesting websites. The Drake Cleanup Team does not endorse any of these sites, other than those sponsored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP); inclusion on this list is simply provided as a convenience for those inquiring about environmental issues.
EPA Region 3's Internet website covering the Drake Chemical Superfund project has provided local and national audiences a steady flow of information about developments at the Site. See the website at http://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/super/PA/drake/index.htm. See the accompanying article on page 3 for information about other websites that provide a community resources on environmental topics.
General Environmental Information/Education
Want to learn about the environment? Want to share what you know with someone else? With fact- sheets, interactive games and more, several of EPA's websites can help you with all sorts of information about EPA and the environment.
Would you like to teach about the environment, but feel that you don't have the technical background? Visit http://www.epa.gov/teachers/. EPA put together a collection of fact sheets, brochures and web pages that you can use to explain environmental issues. These resources offer basic and clear information to assist classroom teachers in guiding students on environmental topics.
At http://www.epa.gov/students/, students in middle and high school can explore a wide range of environmental issues. Need help with your homework? Need an idea for an environmental club project? This is the right place to learn about your environment and how you can help protect it for the future.
The EPA Environmental Kids Club, EPA's website for kids ages five through 12, provides games, pictures, stories, and other fun things to help children explore their environment and learn about things they can do to protect it: http://www.epa.gov/kids/
PaDEP also provides a website just for kids to learn more about their neighborhood and their environment: dep.state.pa.us/students/
EPA's Office of Environmental Education's mission is to advance and support education efforts that develop an environmentally conscious and responsible public, and inspire personal responsibility in caring for the environment. For environmental education fact sheets, grant applications and tips, recognition programs and more, check out this website: http://www2.epa.gov/education/
The Environmental Education Network (EEN) is a collaborative effort among educators, the EnviroLink Network and the environmental community to bring environmental education on-line and into a multimedia format. The EEN will act as the clearinghouse for all environmental education information, materials and ideas on the Internet. http://www.envirolink.org/
EE-Link is a strong presence for Environmental Education (EE) on the Internet. Consistent with the Key Principles of Environmental Education, EE-Link develops and organizes Internet resources to support, enhance and extend effective environmental education in grades K through 12. The EE-Link project is responsible for development of this website, conducting training workshops, and promoting interaction and exchange among environmental education students, teachers and professionals. http://eelink.net/pages/Site+Map
Exploring the Environment is part of NASA's Classroom for the Future initiative. This website provides tools to help teachers make students more environmentally aware and to acquire the values and attitudes necessary for sustainable development. Modules encourage collaborative groups of students to conduct research in environmental areas and to generate products that demonstrate understanding (for grades 6 - 12). http://ete.cet.edu/modules/modules.html
U.S. EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Gregg Crystall (3HS22)
Drake Team Leader
David Polish (3HS43)
Community Involvement Coordinator
COMMUNITY OUTREACH CENTER
184 Myrtle St.
Onsite Outreach Coordinator: George Drumbor
Public Hours (Drop-Ins Invited)
Monday: 10:00 - 12:00 and 3:00 - 5:00
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Thursday: 1:00 - 5:00
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Saturdays, evenings and additional hours by appointment
Community Information HOTLINE: 570-748-5602